What are the solutions fuelling and being championed by youth activism?
Want to cut to the chase and find out what you can do? Check out our actions below for links to genuinely meaning, impactful and above all, empowering climate action.
Young people today will inherit the planet and the impacts of climate change. The actions we take now to mitigate and adapt to climate change will have profound implications on the rest of their lives. Globally, over 60% of young people feel very or extremely worried, and 45% have reported thoughts about climate change impact their everyday lives. This stress, otherwise known as climate anxiety, is a justified and logical response, especially as recent reports highlight how people born today will experience disproportionate increases in floods, heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, and crop failures due to climate change. The youth movement understands the burden placed on young people and future generations through climate inaction today. Utilising this in their climate activism gives them a powerful moral argument for demanding climate action and criticising inadequate policies.
The youth movement is guided by scientific reports that warn of the dire consequences when global warming increases 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the scientific body that creates reports for the UN, argues that keeping warming below 1.5°C will make adaptation less difficult and reduce the negative impacts of climate change. For some small island nations, the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C could result in them being unable to adapt to the challenges of climate change. Therefore, it is imperative to keep global warming below 1.5°C and to take action to ensure this. For young people, this long-term thinking is fundamental for preventing climate catastrophe. For those doubting the wisdom of young people, as Greta Thunberg said, “I don’t want you to listen to me, I want you to listen to the science.”
The youth climate movement is global, and an easy way to become involved is through engaging with established groups and organisations. From international movements such as the Fridays for Future to more local initiatives in your country or city, there are plenty of options. Start by typing in your location + youth climate movement in your web browser to see what groups are local to you. Groups might be organising regular meetings to attend, events and protests to participate in, or even providing training and teaching skills to young people to help them with their climate activism. Not only is it important to join collective action to raise your collective voice, but it is also a great way to meet other young people with similar interests and concerns.
Young people are often a voice for climate justice, as they represent a generation who will receive a disproportionate burden of climate change compared to their contribution. The call for climate justice recognises that those who have contributed the least are the most vulnerable to climate change and demands that those who have contributed the most should take responsibility. The youth movement also recognises the interconnectedness of climate change with many other systemic injustices and crises the world is currently facing. The social structures and inequalities related to large systemic issues such as capitalism and colonialism produces climate change and increases climate vulnerabilities. The concept of climate justice acknowledges that climate change is a threat multiplier that can exacerbate inequality and have different impacts on key groups. Therefore, as per the climate justice slogan, the climate youth movement demands “system change not climate change”.